Center, Clinic Renamed; Co-Director Announced

Center faculty and staff conducted a virtual-ribbon cutting in which the touch of a computer button allowed the previous name to morph into the new one on a large video screen.

Professor Gerrit De Geest, an expert in law and economics, has been named co-director of the law school’s newly renamed Center on Law, Innovation & Economic Growth. Originally debuted as the Center for Research on Innovation & Entrepreneurship in 2005, the center is also co-directed by founder Charles McManis, the Thomas and Karole Green Professor of Law and an expert in intellectual property law.

“With four years of accumulated experience to build on, the end of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation seed grant, and the encouragement of the University-wide Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, the original center has transformed into the Center on Law, Innovation & Economic Growth,” McManis said. “The new name more accurately reflects the research mission of the center henceforth, and, in particular, highlights Professor Gerrit De Geest’s interest and expertise in comparative law and economics.”

Virtual ribboncuttings for the renamed center and for the intellectual property law clinic followed a Public Interest Law & Policy Speakers Series lecture by Pamela Samuelson, the Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law; professor of Information Management; Chancellor’s Professor; and director, Berkeley Center for Law & Technology at the University of California-Berkeley. She spoke on “The Public Interest in Intellectual Property Law.”

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Professor Pamela Samuelson

Samuelson began with a discussion of the role of the Constitution in intellectual property law. She noted that the Constitution sets forth that Congress should enact legislation that promotes the public good by promoting the progress of science and the useful arts. Such legislation requires a balancing act, often limiting the rights of inventors and authors in order to achieve a larger public end.

Her talk also placed current intellectual property law in the context of an historical backdrop and a desire to address monopolies, which led to requirements that there be a new invention to obtain a patent. Similarly, in the case of copyright, rights were given to authors (instead of publishers) for only 14 years, to promote the public interest in learning.

In the last 30 years, there has been a proliferation of intellectual property right protections, and, she believes in some cases these protections have gone too far. Through law review articles, amicus briefs, and intellectually property law clinics, law students and law professors can help to shape sound intellectual property law, as well as promote and define the public interest, Samuelson stressed.

In defining the public interest, she noted, it is important to ask: “What kind of outcome to some legal controversy is going to promote healthy competition or robust innovation? What outcome is going to allow individuals to express themselves in a free and open manner and/or build on prior works? What kinds of positive or negative externalities will occur depending on whether the outcome of this dispute goes this way or that way? Who are some of the people or organizations that will be implicated by the outcome of this? What voices might be missing from the debate?”

After the lecture, center faculty and staff and clinic faculty conducted virtual ribboncuttings in which the touch of a computer button allowed the previous name to morph into the new one on a large video screen. The Intellectual Property & Business Formation Legal Clinic is now named the Intellectual Property & Nonprofit Organizations Clinic to better reflect the clinic's work with the nonpofit sector. 

The Intellectual Property and Technology Law Advisory Board then met to discuss the center and clinic’s new directions and the law school’s IP/TL Program, in general.